To Baste or Not to Baste: Getting Ready for Turkey Day

Hello, this is Kathleen Raskin of Las Vegas, and here at Kathey Jo’s Kitchen, we realize that there are cooks who strongly believe in basting their turkey for Thanksgiving, or when they’re preparing a roast chicken for a weekday dinner. What is basting? Simply put, it’s used to keep meat moist during the cooking process to apply or enhance flavor. It’s used in grilling, roasting, rotisserie, and other meat preparations where the meat is over heat for extended periods of time. I have my opinion, but I’d like to open the floor to my loyal readers. Where do you stand on the great basting debate? Let me and the rest of the Kathey Jo’s Kitchen audience know what your argument is in the comments below.



Basting is the tried and true approach to ensure moist, tender meat. It goes back many years of Thanksgiving cooking. You probably learned it from your mother, who learned it from her mother. The process is simple: you take a basting brush or bulb to apply the liquid to the meat. You allow the fat in the accumulated drippings at the bottom of the pan to melt into the skin and the meat closest to the surface. This prevents the meat from drying out in the oven’s heat. As the liquid evaporates, the surface temperature cools down, allowing the meat to cook evenly. It adds a distinct flavor to the final product.


You’re overcomplicating the cooking process when you baste. Cooking is a simple process, but there’s a little voice inside that says you should be more proactive. Shut that voice off. You’ll certainly be flavoring the skin. But you’re also allowing heat to escape from the oven each time you open it to perform the maneuver. This has a detrimental effect to your cooking time. Brining or salting the turkey will guarantee the meat will be moist. If golden skin is important, simply brush it with oil or butter before placing in the oven. Tenting will also help distribute the heat so that the meat gets cooked evenly.


Do you have any turkey tips you’d like to share? Let me, Kathleen Raskin, know in the comments!